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Cardinals Begin to Re-Open Facilities

On Thursday, the Cardinals reopened Spring Training facilities in Jupiter. Busch stadium opens next week to players for workouts. When could fans follow?

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On Friday, Post-Dispatch reporter Derrick Goold (fresh off a mandatory furlough) reported that the Cardinals are beginning the process of re-opening their facilities for player workouts.

Goold stated that Cardinals center fielder Harrison Bader was the first player to resume workouts in Jupiter, FL. Infield duo Paul DeJong and Kolten Wong, along with Tommy Edman, will be shifting their workouts to Busch early next week.

This move comes as St. Louis emerges from the stay-at-home orders put into effect because of the coronavirus.

It is expected that access to the facility will be limited and organized activities will be controlled. It’s likely that players will split time between Jupiter and Busch, depending on their own home-base, in order to minimize contact and to maintain some element of social distancing, in accordance with current state guidelines.

Goold reports that the Cardinals coaching staff and trainers will be organizing schedules that stagger bullpen sessions for pitchers and catchers with coaches in attendance, as well as infield and hitting for batters.

Goold also acknowledges that the Cardinals already have a plan to coordinate a 2-3 week second spring training if MLB and the Player’s Association are able to reach an agreement on compensation for playing games without fans.

Paul DeJong (who did a interesting Zoom interview with Goold and Chemist Lawrence Rocks in the link above) stated that “baseball players want to play.... I think the game is bigger than all of us. We have to do everything we can to preserve the game in its most natural state.” Though, he also notes that he is all for trying out “some new measures” in the event of a temporary season.

Will it be possible for fans to return to baseball this season?

While MLB is still focused on a scenario that allows games to resume with empty stadiums, it is worth noting that some large venues and events are beginning to resume in parts of the country. In Florida, for example, Universal Studios and Legoland are getting ready to reopen with “anti-coronavirues measures” in place.

According to their website, Six Flags in St. Louis has not yet announced their plan to reopen.

Missouri, however, is on the verge of entering Phase Two of the governor’s “Show-Me Strong Recovery Plan.” Phase One would have allowed large gatherings to take place so long as the event could abide by social distancing guidelines. St Louis County’s local stay-at-home orders, however, took precedent over the state-wide directives. It also would have been difficult (and perhaps impossible) to allow fans into Busch stadium while enforcing a 6-foot separation.

Phase One of Missouri’s recovery plan is set to expire on May 31st. Every indication points toward Gov. Parson easing even more restrictions on Missouri businesses and events when Missouri enters Phase Two. Hypothetically, it’s possible this order could give the Cardinals the freedom to allow fans into Busch if games were to resume.

Of course, that does not mean it would be safe to do so or that the Cardinals would be able to do so by MLB’s own regulations. It is likely that when games resume, MLB will not allow fans in any stadiums until restrictions are relaxed throughout the United States and Canada.

While Missouri is drawing closer to normalcy, coronavirus hotspot locations are not moving so fast. Illinois, for example, still has a ban on small gatherings. The state is currently progressing to Phase Three of their “Restore Illinois” plan which would only allow groups of 10 or less to meet.

(That would probably rule out Cubs games, but it’s possible the White Sox could begin play with fans immediately.)

Even Gov. Cuomo of New York has acknowledged that it is likely that baseball will be able to play at some point this summer in New York City.

Right or wrong, safe or not, the nation is moving ever closer to normalcy. It seems likely that baseball will follow suit. With players poised to descend upon Busch stadium, its a good time to be optimistic that something will get done and our beloved pastime will resume soon (and safely).